Monday, February 28, 2022

Are you a turtle?


Are you a turtle?

That is the question we all asked one another. 

Are you making progress?

It started when I was a young US Army lieutenant stationed in Germany. As the commanding officer of a new, one of a kind, data communications network, there were no guidelines, experience base, nor directives to fall back on. They left us to our own devices. 

In such a situation, there are commonly two ways one often reacts to required decisions - play it safe or stick your neck out and go for the gusto. Torn between a fear of repercussions and my drive to accomplish our mission, I worried over each challenge. 

Then I came upon that cartoon picture of a turtle with the caption: 

Behold the turtle, He makes progress only when his neck is out.

That was my answer. I immediately took a copy of that cartoon to a graphics designer and had him make a small poster that I could hang on the wall. I mounted it on a sheet of Masonite and sealed it with clear plastic. That small poster has hung in all of my offices for the next thirty years. until I lost track of it in a move. I rediscovered it while packing for our move from Mississippi to Oklahoma. It still has my name, military rank, and year typed on the back.

That short quotation has empowered me over the years. 

There are four things that terrify me; heights, bridges, failure, and rejection. A drive to grow and succeed at my chosen vocation(s) counterbalanced these fears. Growth and success do not come to people who sit by and wait. Inaction guarantees failure.

Every time I hesitated about deciding, I would ask myself, “Am I a turtle?” Most often I would answer, “Yes.” Several times I stuck my neck out and walked away from very secure and comfortable places, stepping into the strange and unknown. But there were also times when I did not stick my neck out and later regretted the decision.

I stuck my neck out when I left the security of an established company to help start a new speculative organization. I stuck my neck out when I walked away from industry to enter ministry. Each time I stuck out my neck, it felt as if I was jumping off a cliff into an abyss. But I grew each time. It is always scary, but is rewarding when done for the right reason.

The original author of the "behold the turtle" quote is unknown. Some have wrongly ascribed it to James B. Conant, a chemist who was the President of Harvard University from 1933 to 1953 who employed this motto during a speech at Wellesley College in 1949, but he did not take credit; instead, he attributed the expression to unnamed atomic scientists. 

The earliest known source of this quote is from a 1945 article describing the cartoon on the wall of an office at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, crafted by an unnamed project engineer working on the Manhattan Project.

Wherever this adage originated, it sends a powerful message to us all, "Take the risk."

In the Bible, Abraham, left a comfortable life in the great city of Ur, to go to a desolate land he knew nothing about and he became the father of many nations. The disciples stuck their necks out when they left their jobs, families, and homes to follow Jesus. and they changed an entire world. 

Author Virginia Postrel writes about the major battle for the future of the nation, between “Dynamists” and “Stasists.” 

Dynamists do not fear making mistakes because they grow from their mistakes as a learning process. There is spontaneity and wild abandon in dynamism. We usually can correct mistakes. Creativity flourishes in this environment. 

Stasists feel that they must establish rules and regulations to avoid mistakes. Governmental agencies continue to establish rules and regulations that inhibit creativity and growth. 

Dynamists are the turtles. They stick their necks out.

How can you determine when it is time to stick your neck out and take a colossal risk? Don't stick your neck out when your life is in a turmoil. That's where too many make a mistake they will regret. 

It is when you are in your comfort zone that it is time to be a turtle. When you are comfortable, there is little progress.

Are you a turtle? Are you making progress?

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Secret Sauce of Success

 Do you want more out of your life? The secret to a successful life is not working harder and longer, it is not taking the right pills, or following the right life coach. The secret that will lead you to that great life is relatively simple.

My passion is helping people to realize their full potential and enjoy life to the fullest extent possible.

I remember walking along the cliffs of the Torrey Pines Gliderport high above Black’s Beach north of San Diego; I watched the para-sailers riding the updrafts where the Pacific meets the shore. Most were flying solo, but there were also tandems with a novice strapped in with a professional. 

What would it be like to soar through the air, being held aloft by updrafts, and fly up and down the coast, watching surfers in the water and golfers on the adjacent course? 

Suddenly I awoke from my reverie as a red and white tandem parasail overshot its landing zone, startling me and causing a potentially mortal reaction. As I jumped back, I fell over the cliff and headed for the rocks three hundred feet below. Fortunately, I caught hold of a small branch of a bush and stopped falling, but sat suspended in mid-air, unable to crawl back to safety. No one had seen me fall, no one heard my screams for help, and my arms were getting sore from holding me up. 

There was only one thing left to do. I prayed and cried out to God.

”Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy!” For a time nothing happened.

Then, as I continued to pray, I heard a voice that I knew was from God, “What do you want?”

“Help me save me.”

“Alright, but first let go of the branch.”

My response to God’s suggestion was, “Is there anyone else up there?”

As you may have realized by now, this is not a true story, but a parable (no pun intended) The point that I am making is that sometimes we hold on to things that are keeping us from realizing something much better.

The secret to living an abundant and satisfying life is:

Don’t hold on to things too tightly.

When you hold on to things too tightly, you may miss out on some very exciting and rewarding things that come along. If you are afraid to let go of what you have, you cannot pick up something new. When you will let go of your security blanket you can grab hold of your destiny.

At age ten, I wanted to be a soldier, at twenty I wanted to be a writer, at thirty I wanted to be a corporate executive. At forty, I wanted to start a business. Through hard work, persistence, and a little luck and despite my twin fears of rejection and failure, I achieved what I set out to accomplish. But what the world considered success left me unfulfilled and discouraged. 

While my professional life was growing, God was leading me and my wife Rita on a competing spiritual journey. We came to a crossroads and had to make a choice. There I was, hanging on to that small branch that was my career, financial comfort, and an assured future, while calling out to God for help. He told me, “Let go of the branch.”

We let go of the branch and have never looked back.

I have written about much of our journey in my book, "Destiny, Who Am I, Why Am I Here and What do I do now."

The Bible tells us about a guy named Abram, living in luxury in the big city of Ur of the Chaldees. The Lord told him to let go of the branch, leave town, and walk in the desert. Abe did not know where he was going, but let go of his security blanket and became the father of many nations.

When Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John, they left careers, family, and  homes to follow Him, and they helped to change the world.

Are there things in your life that are holding you back 

Are there things in your life that are holding you back from realizing your destiny, that you are afraid to release? What could you do if you let go of these things?